How Will COVID-19 Affect Conferences For 2020 And Beyond

Industry conferences are just one of many things being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even avid conference-goers are reconsidering plans in light of the health threat. More than 250 marketers from the U.S., Europe, and Asia responded to a recent research survey, with 66% saying they would only attend virtual events unless a COVID-19 vaccine became available.1

All in all, respondents said there was only a 40% chance of them attending a live event.2 Concerns about coronavirus transmission, including asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread that may thwart infection control measures, top the list of concerns for the attendees.

With COVID-19 cases on the rise throughout much of the United States, conference organizers should prepare for underwhelming attendance this season. At the same time, companies must find new, safer ways to inculcate best practices outside of the usual conference environment.

What are the options for companies concerned about maintaining excellence?


Choose Virtual Events

First and foremost, companies can choose to focus on virtual events. Virtual events are not only safer, but it can be easier to disseminate all the information to your team. Plus, you will save lots of money on travel and accommodations that can go back into your business.


Insist on Safety in In-Person Events

While some in-person events are sure to be canceled, others are adapting to the all-new reality. Social distancing, temperature checks, assigned seating, and reduced capacity are all ways to enhance the safety of the whole group, even though no single approach is perfect.


Send Fewer People to All Events

A typical conference season might be greeted by sending four or five people to every event – so that the team can split up and see as many breakout sessions as possible. This year, consider that sending just one or two volunteers can make everyone safer.


Have a Plan for Technology and Follow-Up

If you are going the virtual route, have a plan to recapture some of the “magic” sure to be lost without in-person events. Be certain every virtual attendee is empowered with the required technology, and encourage reaching out to speakers and other attendees for networking purposes.

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